The industry that would eventually see Prince Edward Island become the world leader in providing quality Silver Fox pelts began with the hunting and capturing of wild foxes. It was not the harvest of the wild pelts, but the domestication and captive breeding of the Silver Fox that put Canada’s smallest province on the map. There were several attempts made by various people who caught Silver Foxes alive in the forests of PEI, but it was the partnership of Robert Oulton and Sir Charles Dalton that saw the initial successes of the fledgling industry.
On a small ranch on Cherry Island, located just off of Alberton, in western PEI, Oulton, with his breeding experience and Dalton, with his money and marketing experience, set to work on developing a multimillion-dollar industry. The advances on the Cherry Island ranch soon found their way from the shores of the small island to the rest of the province. At the same time, Benjamin Raynor from Kildare, PEI, and his father had some success raising Silver Foxes from crosses between red and black foxes. The Oulton-Dalton partnership included some of their friends and family, such as retired sea Captain James Gordon of Alberton, PEI and Carriage builder, Robert Tuplin. This small group became a very powerful body in the industry known as the Big Six Combine.
The Big Six controlled the industry up until the early 1900s when Tuplin’s nephew, Frank, eventually started his own successful ranch after receiving breeding stock from his uncle. By 1910, Summerside businessmen Harry and Roy Holman, who wanted their own piece of the industry, approached Frank to sell them breeding stock. He did and the floodgates opened and the Big Six would no longer control the growth of the industry.